In an odd twist of fate, Shane Victorino was sent back to the team that rejected him…twice. In 2002 and 2005, the Dodgers placed Victorino in the Rule 5 draft; the Phillies finally gave him a shot by selecting him in the 2005 draft.
In exchange, the Phillies got right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom (pronounced Lind-bloom) and Double-A right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin.
The second trade involved sending Hunter Pence to the Giants in exchange for catching prospect Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Class A right-hander Seth Rosin.
Here are some reactions from Victorino and Pence:
Domonic Brown was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and back-up catcher Brian Schneider was activated off the DL to fill the spots for now.
I will have my reaction sometime later while I take time to digest the moves. I can tell you it is a little sad to see these guys go, but after the year this team has had, it was expected.
My mother had a saying: “If not for bad luck, you would not have any luck at all.” I am sorry to say that I now need to pass that sentiment down to Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Can this poor guy get a break already?
Lee’s misfortunes have certainly not all been out of his own control. But it does seem like whenever he is on top of his game, the rest of the team lets him down. Did he spill the salt? Break a mirror? Walk under a ladder? Or did a black cat cross his path?
Whatever is causing the bad mojo seriously needs to stop. Lee went 8 innings against the Dodgers allowing only 2 hits and 1 run on a solo homer that probably should have been caught. And he would have kept pitching if his team had scored more than 1 run for him. But he had to be pulled for a pinch hitter.
In a game that wound up going 12 innings, the Phillies basically lost it in that first inning when John Mayberry Jr. failed to utilize his 6’6” frame to reach up and catch that home run ball which barely made it over the fence. Because the way Lee was pitching, he would have easily pitched all 9 innings and had a 1-0 win. Instead, the game went to extra innings.
And although it took them until the 10th inning, the offense finally scored some runs. The Dodgers walked the bases loaded and then Hunter Pence came through with a clutch hit for the 2nd day in a row. That singled scored 2 runs and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead with their closer ready to come in for the bottom of the 10th.
But pitching for his 3rd consecutive day for the 1st time all year, Jonathan Papelbon could not get the job done. He gave up 2 runs allowing the Dodgers to tie the game again. This was a huge blow to the team, especially coming from a guy getting paid $50 million. This was Papelbon’s 3rd blown save of the year; all 3 occurred in the last 7 games that he had save opportunities.
Having depleted their bullpen to get this far in the game, the Phillies were left with few options. By the time the 12th rolled around, rookie Jake Diekman was forced into a second inning of work and he finally gave up a 2-run homer to hand the game to the Dodgers. Diekman is not to blame though; it was unfortunate he had to be put into that situation.
So another great performance from Lee was wasted in this 5-3 loss. The good news is that, despite this loss, the Phillies have won 2 series in a row. They have an off-day today and will return Friday to face the Giants at home.
This next home stand will probably be the determining factor on who stays and who goes before the trade deadline. The Phillies have to win both series to even have a chance. Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After landing on the DL in late May, Roy Halladay has finally returned to the Phillies. And his comeback was just what the Doc ordered.
Halladay was on a pitch count to play it safe last night against the Dodgers. And while it took him a few innings to settle in, he looked pretty good after that. Doc pitched 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and did not walk anyone.
Early in the game though, it looked like the Phillies offense was not going to do much to help Doc out. Against a rookie pitcher making his major league debut, they managed only 1 run through 6 innings. The one run scored in the first as Chase Utley grounded out with a man on third.
Once the Phillies bullpen took over in the 6th inning, it was hard to imagine them keeping the 2-1 score close, based on recent past experience. But the Phils needed a late inning comeback in a bad way, which is something they have been unable to do all season. A lot of that had to do with the bullpen underperforming.
But on a Tuesday night in Hollywood, the script was flipped…finally. Five Phillies bullpen pitchers held the Dodgers to those 2 runs as if they had been doing it all year long. And that laid the groundwork for a Phillies comeback.
It was nothing too fancy, but with 2 outs in the 8th inning, the Phils took advantage of a walk and then 2 guys getting hit by pitches to load the bases. Hunter Pence came through in the clutch situation with a single up the middle to score 2 runs. The Phillies took a 3-2 lead and did not give it back.
That is 4 wins in a row for the Phillies! It seems like a LONG time since that has happened… But can they get 5? Cliff Lee will give it his best shot this afternoon in the finale; 1st pitch is scheduled for 3:10pm.
By the way, Halladay had some comments after the game in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino. He told Todd Zolecki, “It’s an organization that has been committed to winning and you want to see that continue and obviously there are points where they may have to reconsider how they’re going to go about that, but I hope that’s long after I’m gone to be honest with you.”
In other words, trade Hamels and Doc (and most of the rest of the team) is going to be real unhappy. How much weight does that carry with team management? That remains to be seen…
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Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography
July 29th has been a significant day in recent Phillies history. On July 29, 2009, the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee. That same day in 2010, they picked up Roy Oswalt. And this year, Hunter Pence is the big prize.
A report from Phillies Beat Writer Todd Zolecki states that Pence will be sent from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Class A pitcher Jarred Cosart and two yet unnamed prospects.
The best news of the night is that neither pitcher Vance Worley or outfielder Domonic Brown were included in the deal. While the two named prospects are highly touted, the Phillies really pulled off an amazing deal without having to give up any major league talent. This is another huge score for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Pence, 28, is a lifetime .290 hitter and 2-time All-Star who combines both power and speed. Pence hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010 and had a career high 91 RBI’s last season. In addition, Pence cannot become a free agent until the 2014 season, putting the Phillies in control for years to come.
With the addition of Pence and also Placido Polanco returning from the DL this weekend, two moves will have to be made. My best guess is that Brown will be sent back to Triple-A to work on his game. The second casualty could be John Mayberry Jr.
While the playoffs and the World Series are promised to no one, the addition of Pence certainly does improve the Phillies’ chances.
And in case you missed it amidst all the excitement, there was actually a game tonight. The Phillies beat the Pirates by a score of 10-3 with Roy Halladay pitching seven one-hit innings. Andrew Carpenter allowed three runs in the eighth.
The offensive highlights included Chase Utley coming up just a double short of hitting for the cycle. His 3-run homer in the second inning put the Phillies far ahead very early.
Shane Victorino also came close to hitting for the cycle, but missed out on the home run. Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer in the seventh, but sadly for Victorino, he was not allowed to share the homer and help out his buddy Shane.
Oddly enough, Rollins hit that home run off pitcher Jason Grilli, who until a week ago was in the Phillies minor league system. The Pirates picked him up after the Phillies released him on July 20, 2011.
This is now set up to be a very exciting weekend for the Phillies. When Pence will be in the line-up probably depends on how soon he can get here from Houston. Add Polanco back into the line-up and the Phillies are set up nicely for a strong run to the playoffs.
Game two with the Pirates is Saturday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.
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The five teams in the NL East, the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals, have all had busy off-seasons trying to improve their clubs. Some have been more successful than others. And some, like the Phillies and Mets, are moving very slowly through the free agent and trade possibilities.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 moves so far within the division and a breakdown of potential future moves for each team.
#10 – Three Relief Pitchers to the Marlins
In mid-November, the Red Sox swapped lefty relievers with the Marlins. Dustin Richardson went to the Marlins and Andrew Miller landed with the Red Sox. Miller, previously a highly-touted prospect, was a disappointment in Florida. He struggled with control and lacked consistency.
The addition of Richardson is a good move for the Marlins. At only 26-years of age, Richardson posted a 4.15 in 26 relief appearances in the bigs, although most of his time has been spent in the minors. This lefty has great potential. The Marlins hope they can mould him into a solid reliever.
The very next day, the Marlins also acquired two right-handers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The Marlins sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange. Webb has averaged a 3.19 ERA in two major league seasons while Mujica is going into his 6th season having posted a 3.62 ERA last year.
These three pitchers combined should make a major impact on the Marlins 2011 bullpen.
#9 – Dennys Reyes to the Phillies
The Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran left-hander, Dennys Reyes. The 33-year-old reliever posted a 3.55 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies chose not to re-sign JC Romero after Romero struggled with control and left elbow surgery last offseason seemed to alter his mechanics. Reyes will be counted on to take over for Romero.
The only other lefty who has had much success with the Phillies in the few past years is Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies will likely go into the 2011 season with these two left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
#8 – Javier Vazquez to the Marlins
Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez struggled last year with the Yankees, ending the season with a 10-10 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, Vazquez pitched for the Braves in 2009 and ended with a 2.87 ERA. A return to the NL East may be exactly what Vazquez needs to get back on track.
The Marlins also like the idea that Vazquez can eat innings for them, which is something they have been lacking. This 13-year veteran is sure to bring some stability to the Marlins rotation.
#7 – Eric Hinske re-signs with the Braves
The Braves liked Eric Hinske in left field last year, where he made only 1 error in 360 innings. At the plate, Hinske hit .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS. In 2011, Hinske is likely to serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter who may fill in for Martin Prado from time to time.
#6 – John Buck to the Marlins
Catcher John Buck will enter his 8th major league season with a 3-contract from the Florida Marlins. Buck had a breakout year in 2010 with the Blue Jays and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Buck set career highs in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.314), homers (20) and RBIs (66) with the Jays and also threw out 28% of runners attempting to steal. The Marlins may have hit a home run with this signing.
Jose Contreras spent most of his career as a starter until last year with the Phillies where he made a nice transition into a full-time reliever. Contreras was one of the most dependable relievers in the Phillies bullpen and as such, the Phillies rewarded him with a new 2-year deal, including an option for a third year.
Contreras went 6-4 with four saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67 games in 2010. He is able to pitch multiple innings when necessary and can also fill in as a closer. This gives the Phillies some much needed stability in the bullpen.
#4 – Scott Linebrink to the Braves
There was one more pitching swap this offseason as the Braves sent Kyle Cofield to the White Sox in exchange for another righty, Scott Linebrink. At 23 years of age, Cofield was moved in favor of experience. Linebrink is a 12-year veteran who has had a fairly consistent career. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA as a reliever for the White Sox last year and will be a solid piece in the Braves bullpen.
#3 – George Sherrill to the Braves
Continuing to add pitching, the Braves signed lefty reliever George Sherrill, who will be entering his 8th season in the majors. The one-year deal is a smart one for the Braves as it is fairly low-risk. Sherrill performed well in 2008 and 2009, but last year, he ran into trouble. Posting a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers in 65 games, Sherrill got destroyed facing right-handed hitters who batted .427 off him.
If Sherrill can rebound to his 2009 form, the Braves move will pay major dividends. If not, they only spent $1.2 million dollars to sign him. This looks like a winner for the Braves.
#2 – Dan Uggla to the Braves
His name is Dan Uggla and yes, he is now a Brave. This All-Star second baseman has been tearing up the NL East for five years now. The Marlins refused to meet Uggla’s demand of a five-year contract and decided to trade him. They received Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn in exchange.
The winner of this trade may be a tough call. Uggla, with 33 homers last year, gives the Braves a right-handed power bat. However, Infante is a more versatile and solid defender. Plus, Infante batted over .300 each of the past two seasons. And with good left-handed relievers hard to come by, Dunn’s 1.89 ERA in 25 games last year looks pretty good. However, Dunn is a rookie with little experience so the Marlins cannot be sure what they will get out of him.
The worst news about this trade for the NL East is that Uggla remains in the NL East. The Marlins may have just shot themselves, plus three other teams, directly in the foot.
If anything is certain about this signing, it is that no one saw it coming. The 7-year, $126 million dollar deal handed to right fielder Jayson Werth is the biggest move made in the NL East so far this offseason. It may even wind up being one of the top five deals in all of baseball by the time 2011 gets started.
The Phillies could not afford to meet Werth’s demand, who made his first All-Star appearance with them in 2009. Batting .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBI last year, this five-tool player is a great addition to any team. However, at 31 years of age, Werth’s 7-year deal may look foolish a few seasons down the road.
Potential Future Moves: The Phillies
A name you are likely to hear a lot in the coming weeks is Zack Greinke. In fact, the only NL East team who has not been linked to Greinke is the Mets. The Royals have made it known that they are willing to part with this right-handed starter for the right price. Once Cliff Lee signs somewhere, the market for Greinke will certainly heat up.
While Greinke is on the Phillies wish list, they may also be looking at right fielder Delwyn Young. Having spent the last two years with the Pirates, Young has not exactly been lighting up the batter’s box, hitting only .236 last year. But the Phillies are still deciding how to replace Jayson Werth. Young is a possibility, but look for the Phils to fill the spot internally.
Potential Future Moves: The Braves
Aside from Zack Greinke, the Braves are also rumored to be in talks with lefty reliever Ron Mahay. While with the Braves the last few months of 2007, Mahay posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances and has since expressed interest in returning to the Braves.
Mahay had surgery near the end of the 2010 season for a torn rotator cuff. but with left-handers in short supply, the Braves may take a look at re-signing Mahay.
Despite signing a few lefties already, the Marlins are still looking for depth in this area. Ron Mahay, whom the Braves are looking into, is also a possibility here. A few other lefties the Marlins may consider are Joe Beimel and JC Romero. Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings last year and Romero had a 3.68 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The Marlins have also been tossing around the idea of signing right fielder Delwyn Young, whom the Phillies expressed interest in as well.
Potential Future Moves: The Mets
The Mets have not made many moves this offseason aside from a few smaller players like catcher Ronnie Paulino and righty DJ Carrasco. The biggest potential move for the Mets may be simply retaining outfielder Carlos Beltran. Already signed through 2011, several teams including the Red Sox, have expressed interest in a trade for Beltran.
With budget concerns, the Mets have little room to squeak out any significant deals. Therefore, the most important move they make may just be retaining players like Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets will need to resist the urge to dump payroll if they are to have a chance to compete in 2011.
Potential Future Moves: The Nationals
While the Nationals severely overpaid for right fielder Jayson Werth, they may not be done just yet. It seems, that like a lot of teams, star pitcher Cliff Lee is on their radar. And similar to the Werth deal, no one would ever see it coming. But the Nats appear to have money to burn so Lee may not be out of the question.
Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has also been rumored to be generating interest in Washington. Also add first baseman Adam LaRoche to their wish list and right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. Gregg spent two years in the NL East with the Marlins from 2007 to 2008. He pitched in 63 games for the Blue Jays last year and posted a 3.51 ERA. Several teams, including the Nationals, have been courting the reliever.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings. Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions. One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.
Rowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants. After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward. If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.
Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike. He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand. It may also be motivation to bring him back.
In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. He also made the All-Star team that year. Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined. At the time, critics said the move to a larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case. On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.
In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands. This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance. Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed.
Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to. Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break. And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster. Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.
Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown. But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With Ryan Howard on the DL, the Phillies look to bolster their line-up by adding first baseman Mike Sweeney, 37. He comes to Philly from the Mariners for either cash or a player to be named later. While Sweeney has not gotten a lot of work this year in Seattle, he is batting .263 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 30 games, including three starts at first base.
Sweeney is a 5-time All-Star, having been selected each year from 2000-2005 while playing for the Royals, who drafted him in 1991. Sweeney set a Royals record for RBIs in a season with 144 in 2000. He is a lifetime .298 hitter with 901 RBI’s and 213 homers.
Some more interesting notes about Sweeney: His wife, Shara, is the daughter of Jim Nettles and her uncle is Graig Nettles, both former major leaguers and brothers. There is also a Philadelphia connection; Sweeney’s first major league home run in 1996 was off of Phillies pitcher, Jamie Moyer.
While Sweeney is in the latter years of his career and has had some back issues, he appears healthy now and should be a nice addition at first base for the Phillies while Howard is out. On his Sweeney Family Foundation web site, Sweeney’s wife lists one of his life goals as “learning to put the toilet seat down.” He will need that sense of humor to play in Philadelphia…I wish him luck :O)
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